Rockcliff development side defeat Morpeth XV

TO prevent the loss of match fitness that normally happens in December due to lack of fixtures, Rockcliff Development Squad hosted a mixture of Morpeth third and fourth team, in an entertaining friendly match at Hillheads.

In a bid to reward players that have been regularly training, coach Jack Lambert selected a much changed team to the one that narrowly lost to this side when they met a fortnight ago.

On paper this looked to be a weakened team in comparison, but the side that ran out from the changing rooms were anything but.

Receiving the kick off, Rockcliff made their intentions clear as Leon Smart collected the ball and scampered up the pitch before offloading to Jonny Earnshaw who was tackled just outside the opposition 22. Earnshaw attempted to offload but a Morpeth defender managed to prevent it with a finger tip tap down.

Rockcliff piled on the pressure in the early exchanges and were eventually rewarded when the forwards drove into the visitors 22 from a line out, the maul stopped with the assistance of some of the Morpeth backs. This created an overlap and simple hands down the back line saw Sam Heppell run in to score, Chris Forster adding the extra two points.

Just before half time, in a mirror image of the first try, Andrew Telford jinked in under the posts which Forster again converted.

Rockcliff started the second half as they had finished the first and Morpeth rarely had the opportunity to get into the home sides half as Rockcliff had the majority of the possession and should have had more points on the board but the final pass would not go to hand.

Morpeth eventually got into the game with 20 minutes to go and Rockcliff, who had shown their attacking prowess in the first half, now had to prove their ability in defence.

The home side spent the remainder of the match defending their own try line as wave after wave of Morpeth attacks came but all 15 Rockcliff players defended the line resolutely ensuring that the visitors may have come close, but never crossed the whitewash.

Rockcliff eventually turned the ball over and Rhys Johnstone was only too happy to clear to touch for the final whistle.

Any win against a club like Morpeth is a good result, but to completely shut them out is a fantastic one, well done to all players involved.